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  • Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea August 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea

    Beachcombing has looked in a previous post at supposed direct contact between the Roman Empire and China in the second century. Today he will not be attempting to take the Romans so far to the east – but he will still be going an impressive way into Central Asia. Azerbaijan to be exact. It should […]

    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936 July 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936

                                    Night four of Beachcombing’s Elephant week extravaganza is taken up by Richard Halliburton’s attempt to cross the Alps in 1936 on the back of an African elephant. Halliburton, a fun kind of fellow, managed to hire (and insure!) an […]

    Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras? July 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras?

                                                                    For the third night of Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, Beachcombing wants to share a remarkable series of images […]

    Mongol elephants in America? July 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mongol elephants in America?

    For the second article of Elephant Week Beachcombing thought that he would introduce one of his favourite early nineteenth-century books. Just let the title wash over you… John Ranking’s Historical researches on the conquest of Peru, Mexico, Bogota, Natchez, and Talomeco in the thirteenth century by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants: and the local agreement of […]

    An Early Christian Apostless July 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    An Early Christian Apostless

            Summer’s here, the sun’s out and Mrs B and little Miss B are trying not to have arguments with the in-laws on a distant strand of Mediterranean. Beachcombing, instead, took a far more sensible line and stayed at home with a collection of books and is subsisting on a diet of […]

    A Roman Emperor in Second-Century China? July 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Roman Emperor in Second-Century China?

                  Classicists and Sinologists (experts on all things Chinese) spent much energy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century demonstrating that there had been contacts between the two greatest Empires of antiquity, the Chinese and the Roman. They succeeded to their own satisfaction and even came up with ‘evidence’ […]

    A Mystery Animal in Ancient Africa July 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Mystery Animal in Ancient Africa

    Beachcombing has been fascinated by the Voyage of Hanno since he was in short classicist pants. For this text, written in Hellenistic Greek, purports to describe a Carthaginian expedition down the western coast of Africa in the early centuries B.C., at a time when good Mediterranean folk had as little to do with the sub-Saharan side of the continent […]

    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia? June 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia?

    Beachcombing often stretches himself pretty thin in covering the centuries and sometimes he just doesn’t have the languages to check up properly on a story. With these caveats he offers his readers the following tale that reads like a late Victorian or Edwardian boy’s own adventure. The text comes from Richard Halliburton’s Seven League Boots, […]

    Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants? June 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants?

                      In 43 AD, the Romans finally – after decades of flip-flopping – decide to conquer Britain. The British-Celtic tribes in the island would, however, be confronted not only by a professional Roman army that was about 50,000 strong. The Romans decided to also bring some war elephants […]

    Language Confusion in Vinland June 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Language Confusion in Vinland

            Most people, when they think of Vikings, think of men with rakish pointy hats and anger management issues. Beachcombing thinks, instead, of rare manuscripts being burnt, ‘drowned’ or thrown down monkly toilets – he detests the northern philistines.  However, one aspect of Viking life has long interested Beachcombing and that is their habit of […]

    Celts in Ancient Sicily June 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Celts in Ancient Sicily

    Beachcombing has luxuriated for too long in the modern world. Indeed the last time he visited antiquity was in the company of some Indian merchants a long week ago. So he rushes back today to the clean, glistening marble of the ancients. The following passage comes from G.T. Griffith’s The Mercenaries of the Hellenistic World (London […]

    Victorian sewer pigs June 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian sewer pigs

              Beachcombing has a natural and commendable enmity towards sociology. Sociologists are the foes of history and must be resisted on the beaches, in the city and in the hills. (It does not help that his father-in-law is of that profession.) But he finds some of the nineteenth-century proto-sociologists intriguing and […]

    American Indians in Roman Europe? June 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    American Indians in Roman Europe?

                    Beachcombing always enjoys attempts by Euro-Asia-Africa’s various ethnic factions to claim the discovery of the New World. Put even a gingerly query into a search engine and you will soon find that, over the years, the Basques, the Welsh, the Babylonians, the Israelis, the Bantu and just […]

    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ June 1, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ

            Beachcombing can barely take down M. Cary and E.H. Warmington’s The Ancient Explorers without a tremble of excitement running through his body, such treasures are to be found there. One of his favourite sections is their dissection of Herodotus 4, 42-43, a passage where the Greek historian describes, with requisite scepticism, a […]

    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War May 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War

                        Beachcombing has long been intrigued by the following account published in Tribune in October 1944 in Orwell’s As I Please. We know that Greenlanders fought the Germans, that Brazilians attempted to take Monte Cassino… but Tibetans in the Wehrmacht? The mind boggles. Is it genuine or […]

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